Friday, 1 July 2016

They Shall Grow Not Old...

7.30am July 1st 1916 - one hundred years ago - the Battle of the Somme began, and raged for 141 days. At the end of the first day there were 57,000 casualties among the Commonwealth troops. By the end of the battle, more than a million soldiers[from all sides of the conflict] were dead.
My Grandfather came home from the Somme - but never spoke of his experiences, as far as I know. But in later life he was strongly opposed to war.
I found a poem by Edward Thomas written in 1916
Some lines seem sadly appropriate a centenary later.

This is no case of petty right or wrong
That politicians or philosophers
Can judge. I hate not Germans, nor grow hot
With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers.
Beside my hate for one fat patriot
My hatred of the Kaiser is love true:—
A kind of god he is, banging a gong.
But I have not to choose between the two,
Or between justice and injustice. Dinned
With war and argument I read no more
Than in the storm smoking along the wind
Athwart the wood. Two witches' cauldrons roar.
From one the weather shall rise clear and gay;
Out of the other an England beautiful
And like her mother that died yesterday.
Little I know or care if, being dull,
I shall miss something that historians
Can rake out of the ashes when perchance
The phoenix broods serene above their ken.
But with the best and meanest Englishmen
I am one in crying, God save England,
We lose what never slaves and cattle blessed.
The ages made her that made us from dust:
She is all we know and live by, and we trust
She is good and must endure, loving her so:
And as we love ourselves we hate our foe.

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